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Whistles menswear: the verdict

In just over five years, Jane Shepherdson has taken womenswear retailer Whistles to the high-end of the high street, but can she repeat that success with the launch of its first menswear collection, which arrived in stores this week?

At its St Christopher Place flagship, just off Oxford Street in London, the 120-piece collection is all clean-lined basics and smart casual classics. Quality is key, through higher-end fabrics and fancy finishes, and the punchy prices reflect that, coming in above rival Reiss. Cuts are generally slim and everything is in safe but sellable navy, grey and black, with the odd splash of pink, teal or cobalt.

Knitwear dominates, starting with neat raglan-sleeve felted knits (80% wool, 20% nylon, £80) and chubby roll-necks with dropped-shoulder details (53% wool, 30% nylon, 17% alpaca, £145), going up to a super-soft 100% cashmere jumper (£195).

Outerwear is also strong, including a simple mac with concealed buttons and quilted lining (£295) and a smart db herringbone coat that blends wool, cotton, alpaca and mohair (£450).

While there is no distinct or standout handwriting to the collection, it’s more about considered tweaks to wardrobe staples – a simple bomber jacket comes in boiled wool for a point of difference, a bonded double-faced jersey updates a simple T-shirt, while shirts feature slick concealed pockets.

Everything has a subtle design treatment to make it stand out, without being too complicated. There probably won’t be season-defining sellouts as with the womenswear range, but a nice jumper and good coat will always prove popular.

The collection is being rolled out initially to 17 stores, including Covent Garden, Bath, Oxford, Glasgow and Liverpool.

Readers' comments (2)

  • I wish her all the best. I to went to the St Christopher Place to view the Collection. I must admit I came out confused, some of the pricing is a bit crazy to the say the least ,when you consider who is round about her, from M&S, Uniglo, Gap. £125 for a crew neck or £85 for an Oxford Shirt does balence itself out. Thought the coats were excellent value and very well made. As you say in the article "its not a standout collection " but lets hope its not a second thought on their behalf. Lets do a MENSWEAR COLLECTION!!
    I am interested to find out who the target customer is,the look book is very young while Whistles ladies is older. We shall see, look forward to some comments!

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  • Fair appraisal from the previous reader, it's very confused. Aspirational and edgy, just without the edge for the price positioning. There are some nice pieces in the collection and the backpacks look good.

    I personally think they've missed a real trick considering the partners of their core customers which is where Reiss have done so well - a brand that couples can shop. It appears they're targeting a new customer, if so, open standalone stores and show us the total concept.

    Online copy for the contrast sweatshirt suggests this too...

    "A reworked classic, this is the kind of thing you wear when you want to ensure you look casually stylish or are worried about running into an ex-partner. Let them know you’ve moved on via the medium of great clothing."


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